Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wed., 4/26/17 Devotion (Ps. 37:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 37:4, where David wrote this:

"Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart."

The reason God can give anything and everything that is desired, by a hum-ble, Spirit-filled, loving, and faithful Christian churchman is because there is perfect harmony between God's will, and this believer's will. Those who de-light in Christ seek their fulfillment and their pleasure in Him alone. And be-cause they love God, they only want from Him those things that glorify the Lord, and build up Christ's church.

We will never delight in God so long as we love our sin. But, when we forsake our sin, and cleave to Christ—we never ever regret it. God will be no man's debtor; He will fill us with His delights. If we delight ourselves in Jesus, we may do whatever we want to—because what we do will please God, since it is in harmony with His gospel word.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God's] glory is much promoted by the preaching of the word, which is His engine whereby He converts souls.” —Thomas Wat-son, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tues., 4/25/17 Devotion (Ps. 36:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 36:8, where these great words are found:

"They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures."

God is not against our pleasure. In fact, He is really for it. The true Christian churchman must go through many trials; but this in no way diminishes the fact that he or she enjoys the greatest, and most satisfying delights—in this world. A professing Christian who always hangs one's head is telling the faithless world that he does not have a very good God.

If we do not avail ourselves of Jesus, and His provisions as they are meted-out in and through His church and her preaching of the gospel, we will know nothing of what David speaks above.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Get contentment into the sling of your heart, and with this sacred stone you may both defy the world and conquer it.” —Thom-as Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Monday, April 24, 2017

Mon., 4/24/17 Devotion (Num. 1:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 1:1a, which says this:

"Now the LORD spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of meeting, on the first day of the second month . . . "

Maybe we feel like we are in the "Wilderness of Sinai”—wandering around for years, with no apparent direction. If so, and assuming that we are faithful churchmen, let us not despair. Like Moses, we also have the "tabernacle of meeting." We are privileged to bring our sacrifices of praise to the Triune God every Lord's Day, the first day of the week.

Jesus, the anchor of our souls, will keep us tethered to Himself, no matter how difficult things may get here. God still speaks to His children today. Let us be sure to hear His voice.

[Puritan quote of the day: "But plain dealers will always be approved in the end; and the time is at hand when you will confess that they were your best friends.” —Richard Baxter, in the dedication of "The Reformed Pastor"]

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/21-23/17 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! We GET to go back to church! In order to help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his "Beatitudes" book. . . .

"Consider Who it is that we have engaged ourselves to in baptism. There we took our press-money [money paid to those enlisted in service]. We solemnly vowed that we would be true to Christ's interest and fight it out under His ban-ner to the death. And how often have we in the blessed Supper taken the oath of allegiance to Jesus Christ that we would be His liege-servants and that death should not part us!

"Now if when being called to it, we refuse to suffer persecution for His name, Christ will bring our baptism as an indictment against us. Christ is called 'the Captain of our salvation,' (Hebrews 2:10). We have listed ourselves by name under this Captain. Now if, for fear, we shall fly from our colors, it is perjury in the highest degree, and how shall we be able to look Christ in the face an-other day? That oath which is not kept inviolably shall be punished infallibly. Where does the 'flying roll' of curses light, but in the house of him that 'swears falsely,' (Zechariah 5:4)?"

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thurs., 4/20/17 Devotion (Ps. 31:14-15a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 31:14 & 15a, where we read these words:

"But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in Your hand . . . "

This perspective of David (above) is very liberating. Instead of wringing our hands in worry and uncertainty, and concern over whatever the future holds—the wise churchman leaves his or her life completely in God's hands, by faith in Christ. Where *others* are certain to wrap themselves around the axle of the anxieties of the world, and try to draw us into their faithlessness—the sincere believer resists this (natural and easy) tendency.

What is *our* outlook today: one of dark and dismal gloom; or one of hopeful grace (in Jesus)? Easter (as is also true of every Sunday) reminds us that our Redeemer lives, and that we have cause for both hope and rejoicing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the church's pangs help forward her deliver-ance.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wed., 4/19/17 Devotion (2 Tim. 2:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 2:8, where we read these words:

"Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel."

Why would Paul have to remind Timothy that Jesus was raised from the dead? Because, every time he (or we) fall into fear and unbelief—we have, essentially, forgotten this most-important truth. And note that Christ is "of the seed of David." In other words, He is one of us. He understands our weak-nesses; and He has gone ahead of us, in His resurrection.

May we, today, not forget that our Savior—unlike all the false "gods" of all the world's false religions—*is* alive, even right now. Therefore, let us appeal to Him for help, in prayer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Morality shoots short of heaven. It is only nature refined. A moral man is but old Adam dressed in fine clothes.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tues., 4/18/17 Devotion (Ps. 28:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 28:1, where David wrote these words:

"To You I will cry, O LORD my Rock: do not be silent to me, lest, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit."

God wants us, His children, to make urgent pleas to Him; and to ask Him to hear our prayers, and respond to them. It could seem odd to us who believe that God is sovereign, and knows all things, and does all things well, that He would want us to ask Him to "not be silent" to us.

But such is the personal nature of the God that we serve through our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. He expects us to be honest with Him; and for us to ad-dress the world, and even our prayers to Him, with heart-felt realism, (and not a sanctified "stoicism").

[Puritan quote of the day: "When you read in the historical parts of Scripture an account of the sins of which others have been guilty, reflect on yourselves as you go along, and inquire whether you do not in some degree live in the same or like practices.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Necessity of Self-Examination"]

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mon., 4/17/17 Dévotion (Ps. 27:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 27:1, where David wrote these great words:

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"

Life in a fallen world contains many fearful moments, events, and even peo-ple. But the believing churchman need not be overwhelmed by any of these. And the way we overcome the fear of man, is through our greater fear of God. It was only because the Lord *was* David's "light and salvation," and "the strength of [his] life”—that he was able to conquer subordinate "fears."

Are we feeling unsettled today? Let us recognize that Christ is our love, and our fear. With this perspective, we cannot be intimidated.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When the times are troublesome, [a] good con-science makes it calm. If the conscience is clear, so what if the days are cloudy?” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Friday, April 14, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/14-16/17 Devotion

Yippee—Sunday—Easter Sunday, no less—is *just about* here! In order to get us ready for the church's Sabbath worship of God, here is the incompar-able Thomas Watson, from "A Divine Cordial," (or, "All things for Good"):

"We love a saint, though he has many personal failings. There is no perfec-tion here. In some, rash anger prevails; in some, inconstancy; in some, too much love of the world. A saint in this life is like gold in the ore, much dross of infirmity cleaves to him, yet we love him for the grace that is in him. A saint is like a fair face with a scar: we love the beautiful face of holiness, though there be a scar in it. The best emerald has its blemishes, the brightest stars their twinklings, and the best of the saints have their failings. You that cannot love another because of his infirmities, how would you have God love you?"

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thurs., 4/13/17 Devotion (Lev. 17:11b)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 17:11b, where we read these words:

" . . . for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul."

This (above) is a cardinal doctrine of the True Religion. If any sinner is to be redeemed at all, it will not be via works, law, supererogation of saints, angels, being good, paying one's taxes, or not killing other people. If anyone is to have sins remitted, it must be through *blood* atonement.

. . . But not just *any* blood will do: it must be the blood of a perfect, sinless, righteous *human* Savior. Only Jesus meets this requirement. He is both God and man—and He is the *only* "Mediator between God and men," (as per 1 Tim. 2:5). The faith of regenerated churchmen is a bloody faith. There is no "sterile" salvation in God's economy. Let all the saints rejoice, that the "Lamb of God" (Jesus) has borne away our iniquities, in His bloody cross.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To read the word [of God] is a duty, but Satan sometimes puts men upon it when it is unseasonable. To read it at home when God's word is being preached, or the sacrament administered, is un-seasonable, yea, sinful . . . “ —Thomas Watson, in, "The Lord's Prayer"]

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wed., 4/12/17 Devotion (1 Tim. 1:15)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 1:15, where Paul wrote these great words:

"This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."

Are we sinners today? Do we know ourselves to be such? If so, then there is hope for us. Jesus Christ does not save self-righteous non-sinners. Instead, He redeems hopelessly lost, messed-up wretches. People who think of them-selves as “good” do not need a Savior. These kinds of “good" people go to hell. Bad people, redeemed by Jesus' blood, and who end up loving Him, and being HIs true church, go to heaven.

So, let us remember why Christ came: to save sinners. Let us be glad for this wondrous fact.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Thus God is said in Scripture to impute righteous-ness to them who believe, not because they have this righteousness in them, but because He reckons it as theirs, and reckons them righteous by it.”
—Obadiah Grew, in, "The Lord our Righteousness"]

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tues., 4/11/17 Devotion (Ps. 18:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 18:1 & 2, where we read these words:

"I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

When God does something overtly good for us—then, all of a sudden we are awakened from our spiritual slumber, and we give Him heartfelt praise and thanks. We then feel a bit ashamed, that we failed to praise our Lord in the same way when the "sun was not shining," so to speak.

But such is life. We are typically so overrun by our feelings and emotions, that it is hard for us to be rational in our faith walk. As we grow in gospel grace, let us always thank God for all things—because, in Jesus, the church is *always* supremely blessed.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Are your greatest sufferings comparable to the least spark of grace or beam of glory revealed in you or to you?” —Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Monday, April 10, 2017

Mon., 4/10/17 Devotion (2 Thess. 2:16-17)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 2:16 & 17, where we read these words:

"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, com-fort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work."

In order for any of us to be effective Christians, we need to have a base of comfort (or security). Without this, we will never endeavor to act on our faith (through God-honoring deeds and words). This is why the Apostle Paul en-courages the church to know that they are loved by God; and that they have received hope and grace in Christ.

If we are in Jesus today, we are in a blessed position—whether we feel like we are, or not. May God make His face shine on us, Christ's church, today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A holy despair in ourselves is the ground of true hope.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, April 7, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/7-9/17 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! We get to go to church! Here is Thomas Wat-son, from his "The Ten Commandments" book. . . .

"But I fear I have no faith, it is so weak!

"If you have faith, though but in its infancy, be not discouraged. For, 1) A little faith is faith, as a spark of fire is fire. 2) A weak faith may lay hold on a strong Christ; as a weak hand can tie the knot in marriage as well as a strong one. She, in the gospel, who but touched Christ, fetched virtue from Him. 3) The promises are not made to strong faith, but to true. The promise does not say, 'he who has a giant faith, who can believe God's love through a frown, who can rejoice in affliction, who can work wonders, remove mountains, stop the mouth of lions, shall be saved’—but whosoever believes, be his faith never so small.

"A reed is but weak, especially when it is bruised; yet a promise is made to it. 'A bruised reed shall He not break,' (Matt. 12:20). 4) A weak faith may be fruitful. Weakest things multiply most. The vine is a weak plant, but it is fruit-ful. The thief on the cross, who was newly converted, was but weak in grace; but how many precious clusters grew upon that tender plant! He chided his fellow-thief. 'Do you not fear God?' (Luke 23:40). He judged himself, 'We in-deed suffer justly.' He believed in Christ, when he said, 'Lord.' He made a heavenly prayer, 'Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.' Weak Christians may have strong affections. How strong is the first love, which is after the first planting of faith! 5) The weakest believer is a member of Christ as well as the strongest; and the weakest member of the body mystic shall not perish. Christ will cut off rotten members, but not weak members. There-fore, Christian, be not discouraged. God, who would have us receive them that are weak in faith, will not Himself refuse them, (Rom. 14:1)."

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thurs., 4/6/17 Devotion (Lev. 9:4b)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 9:4b, where we read these few words:

" . . . For today the LORD will appear to you."

Every Lord's Day (Sunday), in the proper worship of the true church, God "ap-pears" to His people, and visits them, with His grace and mercy (in Christ). In Leviticus, ch. 9, God came to the people in their worship, (see vv. 23-24). But the Lord may also "appear" to His saints throughout the week—subordinate to Sabbath worship, but nonetheless every bit as really.

Are our hearts troubled today? Are we contrite and broken before God? Do we mourn our sins; and cry out for Jesus, and His grace? Then, God is cer-tainly near to us, visiting us, (cf. Ps. 34:18).

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who has God to be his God is so well content-ed with His condition that he does not much care whether he has anything else.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wed., 4/5/17 Devotion (1 Thess. 2:4)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 2:4, where Paul wrote these words to the church:

"But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts."

Like Paul, faithful church ministers today are not so concerned about any fal-len human beings, as they are about pleasing their Sovereign Lord. God's under-shepherds know that they are of no good to man at all, unless they are first and foremost honoring to and properly-representing their Lord Jesus, who sent them out to preach.

The same could be said for any churched Christian. The believer's primary goal is to see Christ as the sole "audience" of all his or her worship and obe-dience. In this way (only) is effective ministry, and victorious living possible.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Indeed, sometimes grace is as a sleepy habit in the soul, like sap in the vine—not exerting its vigor, due to spiritual sloth or by reason of falling into some sin—but this is only for a while. The spring of grace will come, the flowers will appear, and the fig tree will put forth her green figs.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]